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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go Stranger and tell the Spartans: faithful, here we fell
The narrow pass of Thermopalyae is long gone, with centuries of sendiment building a large plain. The location of the statue of King Leonidas of Sparta set up along the highway does provide a sense of how narrow the geography was in 480 B.C. when a small force of Spartans and other Greek warriors held up the advance of King Xerxes and his Persian army (the parallels to...
Published on 3 Nov 2005 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Movie Of Its Time
Richard Egan brings some square-jawed manly resolve as King Leonidas in this comparatively faithful retelling of history's most famous defeat. You'd have to have been born on another planet not to possess a basic grasp of the Battle Of Thermopylae.

We are taken through the political and religious machinations that led to Leonidas arriving at the pass...
Published on 21 Oct 2012 by Seatinthestalls


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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go Stranger and tell the Spartans: faithful, here we fell, 3 Nov 2005
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
The narrow pass of Thermopalyae is long gone, with centuries of sendiment building a large plain. The location of the statue of King Leonidas of Sparta set up along the highway does provide a sense of how narrow the geography was in 480 B.C. when a small force of Spartans and other Greek warriors held up the advance of King Xerxes and his Persian army (the parallels to the Alamo are palatable). When I visited Greece last week I was glad we were able to stop at the monument for a few minutes, not so much because of what I had read in the history books about the Battle of Thermopalyae but because of the 1962 film "The 300 Spartans."
Granted the acting in this film from director Rudolph Maté is wooden, on a par with the Trojan Horse and the ships that turned out to the wooden walls of Athens that defeated Xerxes at Salamis. But there is still something substantial to the battle sequences, as when Xerxes sends his Immortals against the Spartans and when the Spartans make a final valiant charge to kill the Persian monarch. The basic political history of the times is covered in the film; Greece was debating whether or not to send soldiers that far north to stop the invaders and the Spartans decided not to send troops until a religious festival was over. Consequently, King Leonidas (Richard Eagan) left with his personal bodyguard of 300 soldiers. There is a trivial romantic subplot involving a young Spartan soldier and the girl he tried to leave behind, as well as an exiled Spartan King, Demaratus (Ivan Triesault) who tries to educate Xerxes (David Farrar) about the worth of these 300 soldiers. In the end, the Spartans are betrayed by a Greek traitor who tells the Persians of a pass through the mountains where they can attack from the rear. Leonidas learns of the treachery in time to evacuate the rest of the Greek army, but the Spartans will never retreat.
This was one of the last films directed by Maté, a respected cinematographer ("Pride of the Yankees," "Lady From Shanghai") who directed movies as different as "D.O.A." and "When Worlds Collide." The battle sequences are the best part of "The 300 Spartans," making excellent cinematic use of the contrast between the Spartans in their gold armor and red cloaks versus the black draped Persians with their wicker armor. Eagan does not do much with the role of Leonidas, but he certainly gives the character the requisite sense of honor and nobility. But perhaps the most memorable part of this film, which is one of the most cherished from my youth, is the marching music of the Spartans written by Manos Hadjidakis. Clearly I am not alone in that regard. "The 300 Spartans" is not a great film, but it has its moments and the tale is worth the telling. Recently Frank Miller ("Batman: The Dark Night") did his own graphic novel version of this story, which has inspired Hollywood to tell this story on film again. About time.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a historically accurate epic, 22 April 2005
This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
At last, I watched a Hollywood film that tells the story the way it happened. The theme of the movie is the battle of Thermopylae, maybe the most important battle in the history of Europe. The Persian troups were delayed for 3 days by 300 Spartan warriors, led by Leonidas, at the narrow passage of Thermopylay (Gates of Fire). This gave time for the Athenians, Ionians, Corinthians, Macedonians and the rest of the Greeks to assemble the fleet and give the advancing Asian barbarians the final blow at Salamis.
The movie takes place on lacation, at a very scenic area, with many extras, performing excellent in man to man combat and chariot combat, too.
The classic phrases "Molon Lave", told by Leonidas to Xerxes and "I tan i epi tas", told by the Spartan mothers to their sons, are told, and explained in the movie.
The armor of the Spartan warriors is the historically accurate one, with the big Greek "L" on the front (standing for "Lacedemoniis" (Spartans in ancient Greek), they wear the red cloaks, (so no Spartan blood would be visible to the enemy). The daggers are of the correct size and not mistaken by the Sariza, and the battle cries are the appropriate ones.
The musical score is by Manos Hadjidakis, capturing the epic history in a bewildering way.
After all the "historical" epic - junk i watched lately, i was pleasantly surprised to watch this marvel that was filmed more than 40 years ago. Well done!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original 300 Spartans, 21 Jan 2010
By 
Michael A. Craig "Celtic Mike" (Kincardineshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
I sincerely prefer this original movie to the modern one of recent years. It may not have the same special effects and some of the acting may come across as rather wooden at times but there's just something about this film!
I love the fantastic scenery, great uniforms/helmets and realistic battle scenes - the actual fighting is quality and exciting to watch - EXCELLENT!!
Dated it may well be but still a decent movie from an era that produced some great films based around/on famous battles of the ancient world - some big names are also to be found in the international cast...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Movie Of Its Time, 21 Oct 2012
This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
Richard Egan brings some square-jawed manly resolve as King Leonidas in this comparatively faithful retelling of history's most famous defeat. You'd have to have been born on another planet not to possess a basic grasp of the Battle Of Thermopylae.

We are taken through the political and religious machinations that led to Leonidas arriving at the pass shorthanded with only his personal Spartan bodyguard of 300 and around 700 auxiliaries. Obviously, some considerable dramatic license has been employed. A bi-line concerning a disgraced young blood and his thwarted marriage add a little extra depth. Sir Ralph Richardson brings cerebral gravitas to offset the testosterone bravado. There's quite an intelligent script that's worth listening to.

This movie is a creature of its age. It is certainly true that more visceral exchanges can be found in other sword-n-sandal works of equal vintage - notably `Ben Hur' and `Spartacus', and acting is very much by-the-numbers, rendering a rather stilted appearance. But it's still well ahead of some - `Sodom & Gomorrah' or `The Last Days of Pompeii' - to name but two.

Costumes look authentic, locations likewise. At times we really do see a tremendous number of extras in Xerxes marching army, though the battle scenes more resemble a rugby scrum. A dollop of disciplined fury would've worked wonders here, with a decapitation or two and some spurting blood. Otherwise sets are basic, but solid. Technical issues such as lighting and editing are all up to snuff. Like similar movies of its stamp, this one benefits from a big screen.

My DVD was sourced elsewhere, but has an identical sleave to the one Amazon advertise. It is crisp & clear. Barely any audio-visual distortion was noticeable and colours were still vibrant. Though I don't think it's been remastered. Still worth a punt at the right price.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sharp swords, dull dialogue, and some good history, 18 Mar 2005
This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
Hampered by a somewhat lame script and perhaps not enough high wattage star power to head the cast, this epic is nevertheless quite watchable; based on actual events in the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where a King Leonides of Sparta held the vast Persian army of Xerxes I at bay for three days defending a narrow pass.
The battles are brilliantly staged with its 1001 extras, in massive mano a mano fights, as well as on horseback and in chariots.
A secondary plot consists of a young couple (Diane Baker and Barry Coe) in love against all odds, and are the diversion to an otherwise rather one-note story of Spartans/Greeks vs. Persians.
Richard Egan ably leads his men as Leonides the Lion King of Sparta, but somehow does not have the stature as an actor to really captivate our attention, and other actors include Ralph Richardson as Themistocles of Athens, and David Farrar as Xerxes I.
The cinematography by Geoffrey Unger ("2001: A Space Odyssey") is spectacular, and the transfer to DVD excellent with rich reds in the costumes and the deepest of blue seas, and the score by Manos Hadjidakis ("Never on Sunday") is marvelous and adds a lot to the film.
Director Rudolph Mate had a long career as a brilliant cinematographer going back to the silent film era with the 1928 masterpiece "Passion de Jeanne d'Arc" to later films like "Pride of the Yankees", and this was to be his next to last film as a director.
One can learn history even from a Hollywood epic, as I never knew of the existence of Artemisia the Warrior Queen of Halicarnassus, here played by Anne Wakefield. When I first watched the film, I assumed she had been included to add some female pulchritude to the action, but on some reading on the subject after viewing the film, learned she had ruled after her husband's death and was an ally to Xerxes I in 480 B.C., taking part in the Battle of Salamis, and cleverly maneuvering to safety when the battle was lost. Herodotus even gave her the rare praise of having "the virtue of courage", normally only bestowed on men, as it also meant "manliness".
Well worth watching for its historical accuracy, battle scenes, terrific costuming, beautiful scenery and score, so that though the film is not particularly involving, it has quite a lot to offer. .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blu-rays (Regions A & B) v. DVDs (Regions 1 & 2), 13 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [Blu-ray] [1962] (Blu-ray)
There are currently four options for this film: the 2014 Blu-ray for Regions A and B; a 2004 Region 1 NTSC release; and a 2007 Region 2 PAL release. The Blu-ray and the Region 1 NTSC release have a run time of 114 minutes. The Region 2 PAL release has a run time of 109 minutes (because PAL runs 4% faster than NTSC). All four are described as having an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 resembling the film’s original CinemaScope format.

I purchased the Region 2 PAL version from Amazon UK and I’ve compared its screen image on a 16x9 HDTV with the Blu-ray screen images reproduced at blu-ray dot com. There are differences: (1) the Blu-ray images are wider (i.e. showing more of the original CinemaScope image) and consequently with deeper letterbox mattes than the DVD; and (2) the Blu-ray images appear to have some greater colour saturation and a fair dose of digital noise reduction (since skin tones are blander than in the DVD).

The Blu-ray, according to Amazon, is available for Region A with English and Spanish soundtracks and for Region B with just English. These Blu-rays may not be interchangeable since Twentieth Century Fox is well known for releasing most of its titles region-coded.

The Region 2 PAL release has English, German, Italian and Spanish audio, and subtitles in 12 languages.

# 38
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stilted and Theatrical, 26 Mar 2007
By 
A. Cadwallender (Manchester, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
Although watching this film is a pleasant way to waste a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I cannot in all honesty give it more than three stars. Some of the action sequences are admirable, and the spectacle of 300 Spartans standing against an army of thousands is inspirational, but some of the acting is pretty dire.

I will be charitable and say that most of the fault lies with some fairly awful dialogue that even Olivier would have had problems with, but even having said that, David Farrar as Xerxes gives one of the most artificial and theatrical performances I have ever witnessed on screen. Only the battle scenes and the performances of Richard Egan and Ralph Richardson redeem the movie and make it worth watching.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 301 would be too much!, 24 Dec 2009
By 
S. Mortimer (Coventry) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
Its interesting to compare the story, its rendition and cinematography of this film with the much more recent 300; it of course cannot match the technical wizardry but nonetheless provides an entertaining and dramatic watch, albeit with only one inevitable outcome; well worth having in the cupboard!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of history's greatest moments, 21 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
I must start by stating that, having been trained in ancient history and classical languages, I can confidently say this is the most accurate retelling of the last stand at Thermopylae that has been filmed to date. Clearly any movie will make certain alterations to historical facts for dramatic purposes - for instance the love affair that forms a subplot to this version - but in this case there is little to undermine the excellence of the production. What also distinguishes this version is the emotional content, as opposed to more modern versions where only the violence of combat seems important.

I saw this as a student, and was blolwn away. I saw it again the next night, entranced: this was history brought alive, the stuff from my Greek texts translated into living people and events.To me it was truly inspirational, and encouraged me greatly in the slog of ancient history and classical languages. Sparta to modern eyes may appear as a fascist state devoted to war and brutal training: but the qualities of manliness, heroism, and honour enshrined in the nation's vision of itself and perpetuated in legend shine through this 1962 interpretation.

Richard Egan is rather Hollywood as King Leonidas, but this lantern-jawed hulk pulls it off as purely and simply a macho Spartan warrior, devoted to the cult of "come home with your shield, or dead upon it". Ralph Richardson makes a fine Themistocles, the author of the Greeks' ultimate victory over Persia at the Battle of Salamis. A number of the lines are directly traken from the Greek historians, adding authenticity. And I love the marching music of the 300 advance guard as they head for the pass of Thermopylae, where, with a few thousand from other Greek states, they held out for three days against a massive Persian force while awaiting reinforcements. Betrayed by their own countrymen who refuse to send their main army, and by a traitor named Ephialtes, the Spartans finally fall under a deluge of arrows, a heartbreaking and unforgettable scene at the end of the movie. Leonidas had dismissed the surviving allies present, and he and his Spartans took on the final battle alone, keeping their word till the last.

The poet Simonides wrote a stirring epitaph on the 300:

Go, tell the Spartans, thou that passeth by,
That here, obedient to their word, we lie
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sense of reality reigns, 11 May 2013
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Mr. Norman Clark (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The 300 Spartans [DVD] (DVD)
Ok, it doesn't have the computer generated energy of later interpretations, but it has a greater sense of how it would really have been like. The emphasis on 'honour' and 'my word is my bond' probably seems outdated today, but good to be reminded that once it was important.
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The 300 Spartans [Blu-ray] [1962]
The 300 Spartans [Blu-ray] [1962] by Rudolph Maté (Blu-ray - 2014)
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